Category Artificial Intelligence

In the course of our research for clients, we come across emerging technologies, new materials, new chemistries, growing markets, changing regulatory landscapes, innovative business models, and much more. Every other Friday, we pick five articles, videos, or podcasts that we found interesting and send them your way.

SEMICONDUCTORS | QUANTUM COMPUTING

Intel Can Now Produce Full Silicon Wafers of Quantum Computing Chips

Unlike previous quantum efforts at Intel, their latest is focusing on spin qubits instead of superconducting qubits. This secondary technology is still a few years behind superconducting quantum work but could turn out to be more easily scalable: Intel now has the capability to produce up to five silicon wafers every week containing up to 26-qubit quantum chips. The current technology being used for small scale production could eventually scale to beyond 1000 qubits. [TECHSPOT]

STRATEGY | ANALYTICS | ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE

Ten Red Flags Signaling Your Analytics Program Will Fail

It’s the rare CEO who doesn’t know that their business must become analytics-driven, and many have been charging ahead with bold investments in analytics resources and AI, appointing chief analytics officers, chief data officers, or hiring all sorts of data specialists. But frustrations are beginning to surface: more boards and shareholders are pressing for answers about the scant returns on many early and expensive analytics programs. This long but comprehensive McKinsey article takes apart the various mistakes being made and suggests ways around them. [THINKGROWTH.ORG]

BIOLOGY | ASTROBIOLOGY

Mars Rover Finds Organics, Changing Methane Levels

NASA’s Curiosity rover has delivered some of its most intriguing results so far, with the discovery of organic molecules in three billion-year-old rock just beneath the surface of Mars. The pattern of small molecules detected was similar to what is seen when ancient organic matter from earth, known as kerogen, is analyzed by the same technique: crushing the rock, heating to 860°C, and then using mass spectrometry. [COSMOS]

NEUROSCIENCE | BOOK REVIEW | PODCASTS

How to Change Your Mind: The New Science of Psychedelics by Michael Pollan

How to Change Your Mind is Pollan’s sweeping and often thrilling chronicle of the history of psychedelics, their brief modern ascendancy and suppression, their renaissance and possible future, all interwoven with a self-deprecating travelogue of his own cautious but ultimately transformative adventures as a middle-aged psychedelic novice. Why should you care? Because recent studies have demonstrated the antibiotic-level effectiveness of psilocybin and other psychedelics at combatting treatment-resistant depression, addiction, and depression in the terminally ill. If you want to know more, below are several links to interesting interviews with Pollan and others who are conducting clinical trials of the treatment. [THE GUARDIAN]

Depression – The Psychedelic Cure? Rob Reid talks with Katya Malievskaia and George Goldsmith whose startup, Compass Pathways, will soon launch the largest triple-blind clinical trial ever of a psychedelic drug, psilocybin. Board members of the startup include a former head of the European Medicines Agency (the EU’s FDA) and the former Chief Medical Officer of Bristol Meyers Squibb; they’ve raised $20 million to manufacture a synthetic version of the drug and conduct the trials. [AFTER ON PODCAST]

Freedom from the Known. Neuroscientist Sam Harris discusses How to Change Your Mind with Michael Pollan. Good if you want to understand the science behind the growing confidence in psychedelics as a treatment for depression. [WAKING UP PODCAST]

MATERIALS SCIENCE | 3-D PRINTING

4-D Printing Using Light-Sensitive Ink

This article is intended for students, but it reveals a potentially important advance in multi-material printing, including laying down polymers and metals in the same layer. The new technology—still in a lab at Georgia Tech—can print 4D objects that respond to their environment, transforming in response to temperature changes, pH changes, or other factors. One of the key innovations is the use of precision light curing with epoxy composites that can allow the stiffest part of a printed object to be 600 time harder than its softest part. [SCIENCE NEWS FOR STUDENTS]

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Throughout our work week, in the course of our research for clients across many industries and fields, we come across emerging technologies, new materials, new chemistries, growing markets, changing regulatory landscapes, innovative business models, and much more. Every other Friday, we deliver five interesting things we came across during the preceding weeks. And no filler.

COMPUTING | ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE

Chinese Police Add Facial-Recognition Glasses to Surveillance Arsenal

China is already the global leader in deploying cutting-edge surveillance technologies based on artificial intelligence. Now, mobile facial-recognition units mounted on eyeglasses are expanding the reach of that surveillance, allowing authorities to peer into places that fixed cameras aren’t scanning, and to respond more quickly. Unlike many fixed-camera facial-recognition systems that remotely connect cameras to vast facial databases stored in the cloud, the police glasses are wired directly to a hand-held device that contains an offline database—allowing them to work more quickly. [WALL STREET JOURNAL]

STRATEGY | INNOVATION | DISRUPTION

How GE Got Disrupted

GE’s problems are no secret, but their source is interesting: they spent the last few decades cutting costs, streamlining operations and increasing efficiency, yet it’s hard to think of any major invention that’s come out of the company since the CT scanner back in the 1970s. Six Sigma will only take you so far if you stop exploring: until GE can learn to make new discoveries that lead to new markets, its future will be in question. [DIGITAL TONTO]

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In the course of our research for clients across many industries and fields, we come across emerging technologies, new materials, new chemistries, growing markets, changing regulatory landscapes, innovative business models, and much more. Every other Friday, we deliver five interesting things we came across during the preceding weeks. And no filler.

ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE

In Just 4 Hours, Google’s AI Mastered All the Chess Knowledge in History

In a new paper, Google researchers detail how their latest AI evolution, AlphaZero, developed “superhuman performance” in chess, taking just four hours to learn the rules (with no strategic programming) before obliterating the world champion chess program, Stockfish. “We now know who our new overlord is,” said chess researcher David Kramaley, the CEO of chess science website Chessable, “It will no doubt revolutionize the game, but think about how this could be applied outside chess. This algorithm could run cities, continents, universes.”
[SCIENCE ALERT]

STRATEGY

Grow by Creating Markets, Versus Killing Competitors

This short summary of “Blue Ocean Shift,” W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne’s update to “Blue Ocean,” describes a systematic, five-step approach to creating new markets rather than fighting to the death with your existing competitors. In our experience, the approach works, but even innovative companies struggle with Step 2: building an objective view of the strategic landscape. Their deep connection to existing markets, low risk tolerance, focus on short-term revenue pressure from investors, and rapid executive turn-over, are all factors conspiring against their ability to take the long-term view of their future necessary to build new markets from scratch. [ALLEYWATCH]

BLOCKCHAIN

In Search of Blockchain’s Killer-Apps

“Blockchain has yet to cross the chasm from technology enthusiasts and visionaries to the wider marketplace that’s more interested in business value and applications”. Though most commonly associated with Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, blockchain has been getting a lot of breathless publicity for its potential to transform almost any application [we doubt it: blockchain has a massive scaling problem ]. The author speculates that two killer-app categories will benefit most from blockchain: 1. applications involving complex transactions and multiple institutions, and 2. internet security applications for identity management and data sharing. [WALL STREET JOURNAL]

CHEMISTRY | ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE

Retrosynthesis: Here It Comes

Chematica—the MilliporeSigma-owned retrosynthesis software—was put to a DARPA-funded test: could the software produce a better synthesis path for eight molecules of commercial interest? The results: software 8, chemists 0. For seven of the eight targets, Chematica substantially improved synthesis routes (shorter routes, fewer chromatography steps, higher yields, more reproducible) and came from several directions (completely different synthetic approaches, different starting materials, etc.). For the eighth, it did even better, improving the synthesis but also breaking the patented route to the compound. [SCIENCE TRANSLATIONAL MEDICINE]

ENERGY | PULP and PAPER

Newly Discovered Cellulose Could Have Applications From Energy to Medicine

A modified version of cellulose polymer was noticed in the extracellular matrix structure of e.coli . The newly identified version of cellulose does not form crystals and is readily soluble in water, making it a more suitable precursor for ethanol production. Because of its function as an extracellular matrix component, this cellulose polymer nurtures infectious bacteria, leading to a follow-on set of experiments inhibiting production of the cellulose in mice. Next stage research will involve introducing the modified cellulose genes into plants for scaled up production. [STANFORD]

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